453 homes are burgled every day in SA – here are 4 ways to protect your home

26 April 2024 Santam

According to the latest crime statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS) for October to December 2023, as many as 453 homes were burgled every day in South Africa – an increase of almost 7% since the previous period, demonstrating that this type of crime is once again on the rise.

More concerningly, residential robberies with aggravated circumstances are also up by 5,2% on the previous quarter while 71 homes across the country are robbed every day, with Gauteng (35%) and KwaZulu-Natal (23,2%) accounting for the majority.

Marius Kemp, Head: Personal Underwriting at Santam, explains the difference between a burglary and robbery: “While both involve the theft of goods and bring a sense of violation from having someone trespass in your home, a robbery – which entails someone being present in the home – is a truly terrifying ordeal, as not only does the victim need to deal with the financial implications that stem from the loss of or damage to their property, but also the trauma arising from the very real fear that your life was in danger.”

While neither a burglary nor robbery is something that anyone wants to experience, the good news is that there are steps you can take to help mitigate the risk of your home being invaded, as well as the financial loss that is typically associated with theft.

Conduct a risk assessment

“The first step is to conduct a thorough risk assessment of your home, which is something that should be done regularly.

Check the indoor and outdoor areas, points of entry and perimeter, while taking note of any risk areas. This should include checking the latches on your doors and windows, ensuring your alarm has sufficient battery power, and that your electric fence is in working order,” says Kemp.

Level up your home security

If you find your security to be lacking in any area, now is the time to invest in an upgrade. Ensure that you have a solid, high fence or wall around your property, ideally with electric fencing, and that any nooks or crannies in your garden, where thieves could potentially hide, are well-lit.

And with loadshedding a constant concern for South Africans, all electrics should ideally be backed up by solar or battery.

Burglar bars, security shutters and gates are also helpful as a deterrent, as are dogs and neighbourhood watch groups. “No house will ever be 100% safe, but the key is to add layers of barriers so that your house isn’t an easy target,” says Kemp.

“To the thief, you want to make the task of entering your home look like both a risk and a hassle.”

Keep a low profile

Homes are often targeted when the owner or tenant is away or when there are fewer people at home. Kemp says it’s important to keep a low profile when you and your family – or your spouse – go away as syndicates often watch homes for some time before striking.

“A final sweep of your home should be done before you leave – shutters should be closed, doors and windows locked, alarm activated, and exterior lights left on.”

Keep the fact that you’ll be away as quiet as possible, limiting it to your close circle of friends and family. “It is also a good idea to refrain from posting your holiday pics on social media until you are home,” advises Kemp. However, it is worth notifying your neighbourhood watch group, should you belong to one, so they can do a few additional drives past your home.

Ensure that you are covered in the event of theft

Despite these preventative measures, theft can always still occur, which is why it is so important to ensure that you have comprehensive home contents insurance.

With this in mind, you will need to do a thorough inventory of your home possessions and ensure that you are adequately insured and your sum insured reflects the correct new replacement value of all the goods of your home in the event of a claim. “Also make sure to check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully,” advises Kemp, “so that you know exactly what is covered and the terms of your cover (for example, your policy might state that your alarm needs to have been on when a break-in occurs in order to claim.)

“When in doubt, check with your broker or insurer, who are there to help you safeguard your property,” he concludes.

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